Alberta’s development boom helps fossil hunters hit pay dirt

From the Globe and Mail: Alberta’s development boom helps fossil hunters hit pay dirt.

CALGARY — On the hunt for a new quarry, an Alberta gravel company recently rumbled toward a stone outcropping not far from the oil sands north of Fort McMurray. Among the rock and dirt, workers found a curious collection of ancient implements.

Archeologists were spellbound.

The gravel company had stumbled upon a 9,000-year-old mine where the ancestors of today’s aboriginal people fashioned stone tools.

"This turned out to be a very significant find," said David Link, who is in charge of monitoring historical sites across the province. "It’s really kind of cool."

Throw enough shovels into the ground in Alberta and you’re apt to hit oil or gas. But the energy-fuelled development boom that has swept the province in recent years has also spawned a bonanza for fossil hunters and historians.

A motherlode of artifacts is being unearthed in Alberta in places slated for subdivisions, roads, pipelines, mines and wells.

Fossils and bones from the dinosaur era have turned up. So has evidence of other prehistoric creatures and plants.

Previously unknown sites used by early humans are also being uncovered.

"Every year is a record-breaking year," said [continue]